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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Bowling Green, Kentucky » Food Animal Environmental Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #318876

Research Project: Efficient Management and Use of Animal Manure to Protect Human Health and Environmental Quality

Location: Food Animal Environmental Systems Research

Title: Soil Microbiology, Ecology, and Biochemistry

Author
item Cook, Kimberly - Kim

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/30/2015
Publication Date: 8/30/2015
Citation: Cook, K.L. 2015. Soil Microbiology, Ecology, and Biochemistry. Fourth Edition. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 79:1821.

Interpretive Summary: The 4th edition of Soil Microbiology, Ecology, and Biochemistry Edited by Eldor Paul continues in the vein of the 3rd edition by providing an excellent, broad-reaching introduction to soil biology. The new edition improves on the previous by providing extensive supplementary materials, links to outside sources and references lists. Information is up-to-date, well-illustrated and informative for students in soil microbiology, ecology and biochemistry and for the range of readers who want an overview of the topics. The text could not be recommended for those wishing in-depth information on any given topic. However, chapters are well-written by experts in the field with excellent illustration and literature reviews. The broad coverage of each topic is made stronger by the quality of the chapter authors and their use of further reading, links to outside web sources and an excellent site for supplementary materials. The link to materials associated with the book is provided at the Elsevier website and is easily accessed. Although perhaps too broad in focus, the 4th edition of Soil Microbiology, Ecology, and Biochemistry continues to improve on the popular textbook. This edition provides an excellent overview of a broad range of topics in soil biology making it useful for anyone seeking background on the fundamental concepts associated with soil organisms and their processes. Readers will be impressed by the graphics, inclusive and up-to-date topic coverage and reference lists within each chapter. I am glad to have this book in my personal library.

Technical Abstract: The 4th edition of Soil Microbiology, Ecology, and Biochemistry Edited by Eldor Paul continues in the vein of the 3rd edition by providing an excellent, broad-reaching introduction to soil biology. The new edition improves on the previous by providing extensive supplementary materials, links to outside sources and references lists. This edition also has an e-book version available for purchase separately (Print + eBook $113.94). Information is up-to-date, well-illustrated and informative for students in soil microbiology, ecology and biochemistry and for the range of readers who want an overview of the topics. The text could not be recommended for those wishing in-depth information on any given topic. However, chapters are well-written by experts in the field with excellent illustration and literature reviews. This edition has a broad scope and target audience including biology, ecology, biogeochemistry, soil scientists and engineers. Although the editor clearly values the interdisciplinary, collaborative and integrated nature of the topics, the theme of “identifying unifying concepts” is often lost due to the broad number and therefore limited depth of coverage of some of the topics. Synthesizing information from subject areas including soil biota, their interactions and associated biochemistry necessarily favors breath of information over depth. The nature and extent of soil diversity is described in chapters on the soil habitat (chapter 2), soil fauna (chapter 5), the ecology of soil biota (chapter 10) and plant-soil biota interactions (chapter 11). Methods are included for molecular microbiology (chapter 6), physiology and biochemistry (chapter 7), and for studying soil organic matter (Chapter 13). A separate chapter (17) is devoted to modeling the dynamics of soil organic matter and nutrients. The immense topics of “The Bacteria and Archaea” (Chapter 3) and “The Soil Fungi” (Chapter 4) are given one chapter each. Four chapters cover carbon (Chapter12), nitrogen (Chapter 14), nutrient and metal (Chapter 16) cycling. These topics, each often the subjects of entire books, are covered in chapters of around 30 pages. The broad coverage of each topic is made stronger by the quality of the chapter authors and their use of further reading, links to outside web sources and an excellent site for supplementary materials. The link to materials associated with the book is provided at the Elsevier website and is easily accessed. Ten of the chapter authors provide supplemental materials which make up for the sometimes weak coverage of topics due to breadth of the subject. For example, it is unrealistic to expect the twenty-seven pages in Chapter 9 to cover “The Metabolic Physiology of Soil Microorganisms”. However, the important concepts are addressed in simplified explanations which are then supported by current literature, further reading and four pages of supporting material that includes a glossary and links to websites and YouTube video channels with lectures/information on microbial metabolic physiology. Many chapters provide excellent state of the science analysis with well-chosen lists for further reading. Serval chapters in the book are notably useful to those interested in current topics in soil biology. Chapter 12 (“Carbon Cycling: The dynamics and formation of organic matter”) by William Horwath provides an extensive overview of carbon cycling, is beautifully illustrated and has current literature review and six pages of supplementary materials. The chapter provides general purpose background, but also has sections on the theory of SOM stabilization and on the role of climate on the global C cycle. Likewise, the chapter on the spatial distribution of soil biota (Chapter 8) by Serita Frey, is extremely current with data from many recent high-throughput sequencing studies and a timely discussion on the “everything is everywhe